HGTV Analysis

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SCHEDULING STRATEGIES:

HGTV is one of the most consistent programmers on the cable spectrum, but this August and September the network made some radical changes to its line-up. Radical for HGTV, anyway.

HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL remain the key component of primetime, tethered to 10 and 10:30 from Monday through Saturday. And PROPERTY BROTHERS remains a staple. The rest of the line-up is under serious re-construction.

The net rotated “signature” series such as HGTV’d and HGTV DESIGN STAR on Mondays last year and Tuesdays this year. But those programs are all gone now, replaced for the most part by new rising star, LOVE IT OR LIST IT, which is basically HOUSE HUNTERS with a spin.

“The Guys of Wednesday Night” still rein, with the help of new program BUYING AND SELLING (starring the PROPERTY BROTHERS Drew and Jonathan Scott) which was introduced in September.

Thursdays were the power real estate brokers with SELLING NY, then LA, and most recently LONDON. NATURAL BORN SELLERS joined the fray in August. But this September they are all gone, replaced with BUYING AND SELLING and various specials.

Saturdays have been home to “Design Time” for…ever(?). The design shows consistently under-perform real estate and construction programming, but seemed safe and somewhat under the radar on Saturday nights, where Design Stars and HGTV personalities were born and bred. But not anymore. LOVE IT OR LIST IT bumped them all out of primetime in August and they are still not back this September.

And finally, Sundays have been the long-standing home for Mike Holmes and his various programs…HOLMES ON HOMES, HOLMES INSPECTION and GREAT AMERICAN HANDYMAN. But the programming has been fading and the dual male/female audience did not match the rest of the schedule. By the end of September Mike and his programs were gone, replaced with PROPERTY BROTHERS and BUYING AND SELLING.

SEPTEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:

Live Plus Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / September 2012 vs. September 2011  (% Change)

HH

W18-49

W25-54

Monday 8-11pm

  -6%

      6%

  -9%

Tuesday 8-11pm

   20%

    11%

    8%

Wednesday 8-11pm

  24%

    18%

   17%

Thursday 8-11pm

   1%

    12%

    9%

Friday 8-11pm

   1%

     0%

    4%

Saturday 8-11pm

  26%

    33%

   27%

Sunday 8-11pm

   2%

     3%

   -9%

MTWTFSS 8-11pm

    9%

   10%

    5%

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

SEPTEMBER 2012:  HGTV, arguably one of the most steady and reliable programmers in cable, mixed things up this month. It was time for change. HGTV has seen a year-over-year increase on its core women 25-54 primetime ratings in only one month this year – a 6% gain in March. And so, established and entrenched franchises were tossed off the schedule. The heart of the network, HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL remains intact, But a lot of low-rated, long-standing programming was gone. No Design Time Saturday Night, no sign of HOLMES ON HOLMES or HOLMES INSPECTION on Sundays and no aggressive real estate agents SELLING NY, LA, LONDON or any other city on Thursday nights.  Each of these franchises has been underperforming for HGTV this year, while rising stars PROPERTY BROTHERS and LOVE IT OR LIST IT were catching the attention of HGTV viewers and programmers.

The bottom-line results of the change? Compared to last year, households grew 9%, women 18-49 grew 13% and women 25-54 grew by 5%. The 5% growth seems small, but it is a reversal in the right direction. Growth among men was in the +20% range, however men remain a small segment (30%) of the HGTV audience. Momentum is evident as ratings vs. last month climbed into the double digits, improving by 13% for households, 10% for women 18-49 and 12% for women 25-54.

HOUSE HUNTERS and HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL air across the week from Monday to Saturday at 10PM, and they continue to sit at the top of the ratings rankers; each showed better than 20% growth vs. both last year and last month.

Monday night pulled the second-highest ratings of the week on the back of new episodes of LOVE IT OR LIST IT and HOUSE HUNTERS. However, the night showed the smallest growth, increasing core women 25-54 by just 2% vs. last month and dropping 9% vs. last year.  LOVE IT OR LIST IT was given a larger rotation this month (up to an average of 5 eps. per week  vs. 3 per week last month) and encore performances  pulled down the average program rating by 12%.

PROPERTY VIRGINS was once a prominent fixture on HGTV, stripped across the week in the “First Time Home-Owners” block, but it could only be found on Tuesdays this month. Ratings had been fading, and the move appears to have helped as average program ratings were up by 23% vs. last year. Still, while showing improvements, Tuesdays are one of the lower rated nights of the week.

Wednesdays are one of the most improved nights with PROPERTY BROTHERS Drew and Jonathan Scott helping to deliver the best-rated night of the week. New program BUYING AND SELLING consistently topped its PROPERTY BROTHERS lead-in. Its premiere episode was the only one to break into the top 20 rated telecasts of the month besides the HOUSE HUNTERS.

On Thursdays the aggressive real estate agents were out and the Scotts and specials were in, as PROPERTY BROTHERS and BUYING AND SELLING took over the 8PM slot while special presentations of YOU LIVE IN WHAT and EXTREME HOMES aired at 9. The changes helped the momentum, and the night grew 19% vs. last month and 9% vs. last year on core women 25-54.

Friday nights continue to feature a different mix each week. KITCHEN COUSINS was a highlight this month. WHITE ROOM CHALLENGE, formerly part of Design-Time Saturdays aired on a couple of Fridays with a sub-par performance.

Saturdays saw the biggest programming changes and the biggest improvements – an impressive 27% bump on women 25-54 ratings. Saturday was not the lowest rated night of the week this month, a dubious distinction it usually holds. More runs of LOVE IT OR LIST IT were able to handily top the performances of the HGTV design icons.

There are reports in the trades of a return of new Mike Holmes programming in 2013, but on Sundays in September BUYING AND SELLING and PROPERTY BROTHERS replaced HOLMES INSPECTION. ALL-AMERICAN HANDYMAN, the Mike Holmes hosted competition series concluded this month with ratings that were 19% below last year's levels. Sunday still pulls the highest ratio of men (39%) and the best male ratings of the week, but the margins are fading.

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